Tag Archives: narcissism
Families that have at least one narcissist in them have some very serious problems. It may not be evident at first glance. Everyone may act like they get along just fine. They may celebrate holidays together every year. Yet, serious problems still exist in this family.
People raised by narcissistic parents have mental health issues. There is no avoiding that. Many struggle with C-PTSD or PTSD at worst, anxiety &/or depression at best. Some even turn out like their narcissistic parent, emulating the awful & abusive behaviors they grew up seeing daily. All have relationship problems to varying degrees.
The problems don’t stop at the children of narcissists, however. If those children grow up to have children, they too will be abused by their narcissistic grandparents.
Other relatives will be drawn into the fray as well. Narcissists love to tell other people how wonderful they are while also telling them just awful their victim is. That way, if the victim ever tells anyone about the abuse, no one will believe the victim. Instead, they will label the victim as crazy, mentally unstable, addicted, selfish, etc. while assuming the narcissist has done nothing wrong.
When this happens in a family situation, it seems that most people are exceptionally willing to blindly believe the narcissist & attack the victim. That’s how my family is. No one wants to believe someone they are related to is abusive & cruel. That is very understandable, of course. However, in families with a narcissist, they often take this to the extreme.
Not only do narcissistic families not want to accept the fact their relative is an abusive narcissist, they will do anything to shut down the person making the accusation. They will ignore the victim, accuse the person of lying, being angry, spoiled, immature or unforgiving, or even personally attack the victim. The particularly aggressive ones may stalk & harass the victim, or inundate the victim with hateful texts, emails or social media messages. If the victim blocks their phone number, email address, etc, they will find other ways to contact the victim- get a new phone number or email, create a fake social media profile or hack someone else’s profile. If the victim is a Christian, you can guarantee their faith will become the subject of attack. The “family” will twist Scripture around to support their warped beliefs &/or claim the victim can’t be a Christian & behave in this manner.
It is a terrible thing finally to summon the courage to open up about the abuse you endured, & when you tell people you think will support you, to be met with disbelief & even cruelty. It is one of the most horrible things a victim can endure- being mocked or shamed for divulging the most painful experiences in their life while watching those they thought would be on their side comfort & support the very person who abused them.
I know there is nothing I can say to make this experience hurt any less. I’m very sorry if you’re going through this. There are some ways you can cope though.
Always, ALWAYS maintain a close relationship to God. He knows the truth & understands your situation. He will give you comfort & strength. He will show you the best way to handle the situation, too.
Remember, you do NOT need anyone’s validation but your own. Yes, it’s a good thing having people in your life support you & even say things like, “That was awful.. I’m sorry you went through that.” However, you don’t *need* it.
That brings me to my next point- learn to validate yourself. To do this, accept your feelings without judgment. You’re allowed to be hurt & angry your family treats you badly. Be proud of the good person you are & the direction towards healing you’re taking. You have overcome a great deal. If you recently learned about narcissism & began speaking about it, that is a huge step- be proud of yourself for that!
And lastly, never, ever forget that these people who have hurt you so badly have serious problems. Functional people defend victims, not attack them while coddling an abuser. These people may get something from the narcissist, so they won’t go against her & risk losing it. Maybe the narcissist is someone they idolize, so they refuse to listen to anything bad about them. Maybe they’re simply cowardly, & think it’s easier to go along with the narcissist than to stand up for what’s right. In any case, this person’s behavior says nothing about you but plenty about them.
Although I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, you will survive this awful situation, & you will be much stronger for having done so!
I have a knack for remembering dates, including kinda obscure ones, that even having brain damage hasn’t affected. I graduated high school on May 13, 1989, for example.
Two other dates I remember are August 23, 1990 & November 24, 1990. Those were the dates I met & then broke up with a man I was involved with. He made me feel so guilty for breaking up with him that ever year for many years, I dreaded those dates because I’d feel such guilt. Although he was only in my life briefly, the dysfunctional relationship had quite an impact on me.
January 31, 2014, I learned that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself two days before. The news came as a complete shock to me since I had absolutely no clue of his orientation or capacity for murder. Keeping in mind my knack for remembering dates, all those dates bring him to mind & every time, make me sad for him, his family, his victim & his victim’s family.
A few times, I’ve mentioned the date in passing conversation & the person I was speaking with told me, “Just don’t think about it.” It sat very wrong with me, even when I knew the person had good intentions, & I’ll tell you why.
“Just don’t think about it” is invalidating. You’re thinking about something that bothers you & are trying to talk it out, yet the other person shuts you down. That is invalidation. Why they do it doesn’t change that fact.
If you “just don’t think about it”, how are you supposed to heal from the incident? If you want to heal, you have to think about it & process the emotions connected to it. Not thinking about it is no help at all!
Not thinking about it also contributes to mental & physical problems. It can create anxiety, depression, anger, high blood pressure, heart disease, & kidney disease. It also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, leaving you open to sickness.
Obviously, “just don’t think about it” is not good advice & you should NOT follow it!
I’m not saying you should think of nothing but the traumatic event you were told not to think about. Instead, I’m saying work with it. Realize you feel as you do for a reason. Maybe it’s there to let you know now is the time you should face this issue. If so, face it. No, it isn’t easy to face past trauma, but do it anyway! If you face it, it will lose much maybe even all of the negative effect it has over you. It also won’t affect your physical health.
If it’s something you’ve already dealt with like I have dealt with my situation, maybe it’s a reminder to pray for the people involved. I know, praying for a person who has abused you, especially one with no remorse or who has made you out to be the abusive one is tough, but do it anyway. Do it not because this person deserves your prayers, but because God wants you to do it & because it really can help you. Praying for those who use & abuse you is incredibly helpful at releasing the anger & even bitterness you feel towards them. Carrying such things around isn’t good for your health, so why do it? You can maintain boundaries or even no contact while not carrying around anger.
Whatever you feel when something traumatic comes to mind, honor those feelings & know they are there for a valid reason. Accept them without judgement. Face them however you feel you need to do in order to heal. Pray for the abusive person if you can too. Whatever you do though, remember that “just don’t think about it” is terrible advice. Ignore the advice, & take good care of yourself!
Recently I read an article about symptoms of PTSD. I didn’t think much more about it at first, but it kinda bopped around the back of my mind a bit for a few days.
A couple of days later, my husband & I had to go to the doctor for our health insurance. His appointment was first, & we texted periodically. He mentioned the doctor was concerned about his depression. When I saw the doctor, I asked him about it & he said, “I see a lot of people day after day. He has the look many have who have been depressed for years.” I thought it was an interesting statement- he’s very observant!
A couple of days later, something hit me. Our doctor didn’t say a word about my mental health. Not a comment one about me looking like someone who’s been depressed for years, even though I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t depressed. Somehow, my lazy Susan-esque brain connected that with the article I read about PTSD symptoms. In that moment I realized just how much I have been ignoring my C-PTSD symptoms. I’m so good at it that even my observant doctor had no idea I struggle with C-PTSD.
Yes, I’m hyper-vigilant, but you probably wouldn’t know it to look at me. Rather than upset people by startling easy, I am on constant guard, surveying my environment so not much surprises me.
I also get very quiet when I have flashbacks. Naturally I’m quiet anyway so that isn’t a huge red flag My husband has seen me have many flashbacks, but hasn’t noticed a lot of them because of that. I don’t even tell him most of the time when I have flashbacks. I just recover & go on the best I can.
These are just two examples, but there are others.
Thinking of such things I realized how incredibly unhealthy this is that I ignore so many of my symptoms. On the outside, I look like I’m managing the C-PTSD just fine, but on the inside is a very different story.
In considering all of this, I think this happens simply out of habit. Growing up with narcissistic parents, I learned early never to “bother” my parents with my problems. My purpose was to take care of them, not the other way around. As a result, like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned to hide or even ignore anything that didn’t please them. I ignored emotions, illness, thoughts, wants, & needs. Now here I am, an adult in my 40’s with my own life, still hiding & ignoring important things that I shouldn’t be hiding or ignoring.
No doubt I’m not the only person in this position, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue with you, Dear Reader.
It’s important with PTSD & C-PTSD to manage your symptoms. Ignoring them isn’t the same thing. Managing them means you have some control over your symptoms. Ignoring them means you’re working hard to pretend they don’t exist, which shows they have control over you.
Ignoring symptoms also means the problem won’t get fixed or at least controlled. It also can mean you face health problems because emotions that are ignored can cause stress & we all know stress is terrible for your physical & emotional health.
With both PTSD & C-PTSD, there are some symptoms that are just a part of life but others that can be managed. Flashbacks come to mind. Rather than ignoring them or simply accepting them, why not make them work for you whenever possible? Flashbacks can be a sign of a particular issue that you need to work on. I’ve learned that if I deal with the issue my flashback was about, I don’t have another about that particular issue. The same goes for nightmares. This also can work with anxiety. Figure out what is the root of this anxiety. Ask God to help you if need be. Once you know the root, you can face the problem & eliminate one cause of your anxiety. Chipping away at it one issue at a time can help make it more manageable.
Maybe your symptoms are flaring up because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard lately or it’s near the anniversary of some traumatic event. If that is the case, your brain is trying to tell you to slow down & do some good self care. Listen to the symptoms! They’re trying to get your attention for a reason!
Remember, PTSD & C-PTSD are potentially life threatening disorders. They should be taken very seriously. Ignoring your symptoms isn’t going to help you & can hurt you. Pay attention to your symptoms- your brain is trying to tell you something, so listen to it!
Whether overt or covert, narcissists are control freaks. They must be in control of their environment & the people in it at all times. We all know overt narcissists use fear & covert narcissists guilt to accomplish this, but there are other methods they also use.
Narcissists may use ignoring a person as a means of control. They accomplish this in many ways. They may simply ignore the victim in conversation, acting as if the person didn’t say anything when they did. The narcissist may talk over the victim in conversation. They may conveniently “forget” to invite the victim to a gathering. If the victim arrives with someone, the narcissist may greet that person while ignoring the victim. When a person is ignored this way, they may shut down, fading quietly into the background which leaves more room for the narcissist to get attention. Or, they may question the narcissist, wondering what they did wrong & pleading with the narcissist to forgive them. Ignoring a victim also lets that person know that the narcissist thinks they are unworthy of the narcissist’s attention, so the victim may try harder & harder to please the narcissist.
Interrupting is another display of dominance narcissists use. When most people have a conversation, & someone interrupts them, they stop talking to let the interrupting person talk. Narcissists will use this natural proclivity to their advantage. My father used this tactic a LOT. In fact, he put a unique spin on it. When I started talking, he would open his mouth as if he was going to talk, then close it quickly. Naturally, I thought I was interrupting him, so I encouraged him to talk. One day after a visit, I prayed about it. I don’t usually interrupt people, so why was I doing it with him?! God showed me I wasn’t. My father was using this tactic to get me to stop talking so he could talk. I hate bad manners, he knew it & used that to dominate our conversations.
Shock is a big favorite with narcissists. If a narcissist is a part of a group of people & not the center of attention, that narcissist is incredibly uncomfortable. She feels out of sorts, & will do whatever it takes to restore her position of being in control & being the center of attention. One method she may use to regain her position is by shocking everyone in the group. She may start talking loudly & suddenly about an entirely different topic of conversation. She may blurt out some weird or disturbing facts that is so odd that it gets everyone’s attention. She may walk away while someone is talking, make a loud noise or even spill her purse to restore the balance of power she wants. My mother once broke into song when my father & I left her out of our conversation. Remember the old musical, “Oklahoma!”? Apparently my mother does. She started singing the theme song. Loudly. Since this was well before I knew anything about NPD, my father & I ended our conversation at that point. Attention was focused back on her, as she wanted.
Possibly the most disgusting way narcissist try to assert their dominance is with body functions. Even passing gas or burping isn’t too low for a narcissist desperate enough to establish dominance. They also may blow their nose extremely loudly or make the sounds more disgusting than need be. If they don’t use a body function, they will at least talk about them. My mother has irritable bowel syndrome & has absolutely no trouble discussing all the gory details of it. Body functions are so seldom a part of a conversation in any way that when it happens, people are naturally shocked & notice the person who brought them into the conversation.
The best way I’ve found to deal with these dominant behaviors is very simple. Ignore them. Pretend the narcissist didn’t say or do anything unusual. Carry on with your conversation as usual. If she interrupts you, you can either talk over her or wait until she is finished, then resume your previous conversation. If she ignores you, pretend not to notice. The same goes if she uses shock value or body functions- pretend you notice nothing whatsoever. By ignoring the narcissist’s attempts to dominate, you aren’t allowing her to dominate. You’re depriving her of narcissistic supply, which is the best thing you can do with any narcissist.
One thing I think all victims of narcissistic abuse wonder about at some point is does the narcissist realize what they are doing is wrong? The answer is a resounding YES!
Everyone knows the difference between right & wrong, barring any physical problem with the brain that may destroy that natural ability of course. This includes narcissists. So it is very safe to assume that if they don’t have a physical problem with their brain, they still know the difference between right & wrong. Evidence of this can be found in the fact they hide the abuse & try very hard to make sure people don’t find out what they do. They will do anything to prevent their victims from telling others about their behavior. They threaten the victim not to tell anyone or shame the victim into believing the abuse was not the fault of the narcissist. They try to convince the victim that the victim was at fault for making them do what they did, the abuse didn’t happen they way they remember or it didn’t happen at all. They tell everyone that the victim is crazy, a liar or anything else they can think of to discredit that victim so other people won’t believe him or her. A lot of effort goes into keeping the abuse hidden. This is evidence that they do know what they’re doing is wrong.
Narcissists simply don’t care about what is right & what is wrong. They want to do whatever they want to do without people trying to stop them, which is the only reason they work so hard to hide it.
Narcissists have chosen to do evil, abusive behavior many, many times. In doing so, they have shut down the natural empathy that human beings are born with. This is why they don’t feel guilt when they hurt people. Every decision to do evil shuts down that empathy a little more, or sears their conscious as some folks say. God gave me a good visual on this. I imagined a person standing at a revolving door. God was on one side, Satan on the other. Each decision a person made pushed the revolving door open to either God or Satan. Bad decisions opened it wider to Satan while good ones opened it wider to God. After a while, a lot of good decisions open it completely to God & close out Satan, while a lot of bad ones open it completely to Satan.
Knowing all of this, don’t be fooled if the narcissist in your life pretends to be innocent or oblivious to the pain he or she has caused you. Many narcissists pretend they don’t know that what they said or did would hurt their victim, & covert narcissists in particular do this.
Pleading ignorance is a very effective tactic for an abuser. People are usually quick to forgive someone who hurt them without intending to, but not with someone who deliberately hurts them. They are also much more apt to be lenient with someone they don’t think is intentionally hurtful, overlooking their bad behavior. Also, if the abuser is forced into therapy, pleading ignorance can work out well for them. Therapists often will focus their attention on explaining to the narcissist why their behavior is bad. Once their attention is so focused on the narcissist, the narcissist can manipulate them however they see fit. . If you think therapists can’t be manipulated, you’re absolutely wrong. They’re human just like the rest of us. Not to mention, they don’t receive much teaching on cluster B personality disorders like narcissism. Unless a therapist has personal experience with narcissistic abuse, the chances are excellent that therapist can be manipulated by a narcissist.
So to sum things up, yes, narcissists do know what they’re doing is wrong. Observe their behavior, & you’ll see for yourself that they DO know what they’re doing!
Many people tell victims of narcissistic abuse things like “You need to be the bigger person & let it go.” “You just don’t understand- she had a bad childhood!” “You just need to forgive & forget.” “The Bible says to honor your parents. If you call your mother/father out on their behavior, God doesn’t approve of that!” Such statements are often said for the following reasons…
- The person has come from an abusive past, & refuses to face the pain. You talking about it reminds that person of his or her pain. That person wants to shut you down so you stop making that person uncomfortable.
- The person knows the narcissist, & like all flying monkeys, is protective of that narcissist. If the narcissist is related to this person, this is a very likely scenario. Families are extremely protective of narcissists. You can see a post I wrote on the topic here: How Families Protect Their Narcissist
Whatever the reasons these ludicrous statements are said, they not only hurt, they confuse & frustrate victims. As if it’s not bad enough we’ve been abused by the narcissist, now other people are being abusive as well by invalidating our pain as well as judging & criticizing us for speaking up to the abuser.
There is a verse in Isaiah that can shut down the argument that a victim shouldn’t speak up:
Isaiah 1:16-17 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, REBUKE THE OPPRESSOR; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” (NKJV) (emphasis added)
Notice the part in all caps. “Rebuke the oppressor.” God said that! I just capitalized it for emphasis. Pretty cool, huh? According to God, we are not only allowed to confront someone about abusive behavior- we are supposed to do it. Do you really think God would’ve included that in the Bible if He didn’t want people to do it? Also notice- it doesn’t say, “Rebuke the oppressor, unless the oppressor is a parent.” There are no exceptions in this verse!
Now I realize with narcissists, many times it’s easier to let them do something than confront them. They love turning things around where the victim is the blame or telling others how mean & unreasonable a victim is for not tolerating their abuse. It’s frustrating but such behaviors mean that sometimes we shouldn’t confront them. But, even so, there are times that we know in our hearts we need to speak up to them no matter what they do. During those times, you can rest assured you are doing the right thing. It’s even in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah!
If anyone judges or criticizes you for speaking up to the narcissist in your life, although it can be painful, try to ignore it. If God Himself has said we are to rebuke an oppressor, who is any mere human to tell you it’s the wrong thing to do? You do what you know that God would have you to do, even if that includes confronting a narcissist, & you do it secure in the knowledge God approves of what you’re doing.
Narcissists love to have power over their victims. To hurt someone either mentally, physically or sexually gives them a feeling of power. Possibly the only thing that makes narcissists feel even more powerful is watching their victim suck up to them.
When a victim is genuinely repentant & will do anything to make it up to their abuser, this is a huge power trip for the narcissist. They know they can make that victim do anything at this point. There also is the added bonus of the victim accepting responsibility for whatever the narcissist did. This means the narcissist doesn’t have to take any blame at all. (Not that they would anyway, but at least in this situation, they don’t have to work to pawn that blame off on someone else).
Narcissists are incredibly good at manipulation & gaslighting- making a person doubt their own thoughts, feelings, perceptions & even sanity. Because of this, it’s no wonder many victims in the midst of narcissistic abuse continually apologize & suck up to their abuser. I certainly have done my fair share of it before learning about narcissism. (If you have too, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I doubt there is one victim of narcissistic abuse that hasn’t apologized to their abuser at least a couple of times.)
If you’re still in a relationship with a narcissist, I’m sure you’re faced with the scenario at least periodically, where the narcissist is angry with you & demands that you apologize. Or maybe she prefers suddenly to stop speaking to you, with no explanation whatsoever, in an attempt to make you rush to her side, begging for her to speak to you again.
Having been there, I learned something. Don’t do it!!!
If you have done something wrong, then by all means, apologize. It’s just the right, mature thing to do. Say you’re sorry, make things right if you can, & move on.
If you haven’t done something wrong, then do NOT apologize! If you do it once, the narcissist will demand you do it again & again. She will use you & wear you down to get you to make it up to her for whatever horrible thing you supposedly did.
If a person can’t behave like a mature adult by trying to work out a problem, then don’t treat them as if they are one. Let that narcissist pout like the bratty child she’s acting like while you ignore her ridiculous display. If she’s trying to make you feel guilty, pretend not to notice. If she hints for an apology, also pretend not to notice. Learn to enjoy the silent treatment if you’re on the receiving end of it. It’s a reprieve from unnecessary drama- why not enjoy it?
Stop trying to make it up to a narcissist who isn’t telling you what you’ve done wrong or who blames you for them abusing you! It only provides them with narcissistic supply, & the more you provide, the more they will demand from you.
Making it up to someone you have hurt is one thing. It should be a normal thing for a person to do as well as the one hurt to expect. However, when someone constantly expects another person to make it up to them without trying to talk things out, or because they abused their victim, something is very, very wrong with this situation.
Since I’m working on a book about narcissistic in-laws, it’s certainly gotten me to thinking about them. Not exactly a fun topic since I’ve been through a LOT at the hands of narcissistic in-laws, but it’s also a topic that needs to be addressed. I’ll share a blog post when it’s published as well as add the link to my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
One thing that recently has come to mind about these dreadful people is how they are with exes. I’ve heard of & read so many stories of narcissistic in-laws who keep in touch with their son’s or brother’s ex, even after he has moved on to another woman & there were no children created in the relationship. They may even have the ex’s picture hanging up in their home or a picture of him with her when they were together. They may invite her to family functions, whether or not the new lady is present.
I’ve been down this road. A woman my husband broke up with in 1991 is still a bigger part of my in-law’s family than I ever have been. In 1997 at an in-law family party, my two sisters in-law spoke a LOT about her (when it was just the three of us together, no witnesses, of course), talking about what a great person she was & how they should hang out with her soon. They never wanted to hang out with me, mind you. Not long after we were married in 1998, my mother in-law told me how disappointed she & my father in-law were that my husband married me instead of this person. Over the years, I learned that at least one of the sisters in-law not only kept in close contact with this ex, but kept my husband abreast of what was going on in her life. Then, when we ran into her in a store two months to the day after my husband’s father died, I saw how comfortable & friendly she was with my husband. It was painfully obvious she’d seen him recently, so I later asked what was going on with her. Turns out not only had she been to my father in-law’s funeral, but also my mother in-law’s & took one of her sons to visit my mother in-law in the hospital. She also lives only a few miles from my late in-laws’ home & attends the church they attended.
As if all of this isn’t awful enough, I also realized when we saw this woman that she obviously is still very attracted to my husband.
This whole situation got me to thinking about these types of situations. If you’re in it, you’re going to need a lot of wisdom on how to cope with it.
I’m not saying all friendships between people & their exes or even their family & their exes are bad. Sometimes they work out just fine or are necessary because of children or other ties to each other such as owning a business together. When narcissistic in-laws are involved though, it’s a whole different situation. This relationship isn’t because these people were genuinely fond of each other. Like everything else, there is a self-serving purpose in it. Never ever doubt that! Your spouse may think his family’s behavior is normal but it isn’t!
If you wonder, watch how this relationship is handled. Your feelings should be considered. Your in-laws should not flaunt this person to you. This person shouldn’t be frequently discussed fondly in front of you or her picture shouldn’t be in a predominant space in the in-law home (especially if it also includes your spouse).
How do they handle this relationship regarding your spouse? Do they keep your spouse up to date on his ex’s life? If your spouse wants no parts of the details of that ex, do they force him to listen anyway? Do they forward her emails to him so he not only knows but has her email address as well?
These behaviors are all red flags, & you are going to need a lot of wisdom on how to handle this situation.
As always, I recommend prayer as the best place to start. Luke 12:12 says, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (KJV) & James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV) Seems to me prayer is the best place you can start!
Also never give your spouse an ultimatum. People who do this almost always end up losing because no one wants to feel controlled or manipulated.
Stay calm when you must discuss the situation. If you act angry or hurt, chances are your spouse will discuss the conversation with someone in his family. From there, it would be very easy for your in-laws to convince your spouse that you’re unreasonable, paranoid, even crazy. And, no doubt if he sees his ex, she is on good behavior. She will look even better to him & you even worse. So stay calm during the discussion for the sake of your marriage!
Do NOT tell him what you think his family is up to. Coming from a narcissistic family does quite the number on a person’s psyche as most people know. One thing I’ve noticed is men in these situations have a lot more trouble facing the truth about their family than women. (No guys, I don’t hate you or think you’re stupid. It’s just an observation.) If you’re in this position with your spouse, I know it can be frustrating. You see the truth so clearly but your spouse doesn’t. Don’t work hard trying to convince him of the truth. You telling the truth will come across to him as you criticizing his family, which in turn will make him very protective of them & angry at you. It will drive a huge wedge between you two.
You can, however, gently, let your spouse know that you are very uncomfortable with this situation. Tell him how you feel, & don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. Better for your spouse to see that side of you than the angry side, because it won’t make him defensive. He will be more willing to listen to you & relate to your perspective if you aren’t angry.
Also, what about the ex? Is she obviously still attracted to your husband? This is tough, I know. I really feel your pain. The best I know to do with this is to focus on your spouse. Make sure you don’t stop doing things that he loves or finds attractive about you. Do nice little gestures for him to show him you love him, like slipping love notes into his lunch box, sock drawer, coat pocket or even taping them to his steering wheel while he’s in the shower. If you tell him what a terrible person his ex is instead, you’re only making him defensive of her & angry at you. Yes, I know this one is HARD. After seeing my husband’s ex, every fiber in me wanted to say exactly what I think of her & his family. But, I knew that he wouldn’t believe what I said & would end up passionately defending them while simultaneously being very angry with me.
Lastly remember, all of this isn’t about you. It’s about some pretty dysfunctional people doing what dysfunctional people do. If the ex is still interested, well, she should have tried harder to keep him & is being foolish for not giving up. He moved on & she should too. As for your in-laws, they are getting something out of this relationship. They probably want to split you & your spouse up or at the very least cause trouble between you two. Maybe they think because she’s wealthy or in some sort of position in society, she makes them look good. Who knows? But you can be sure of one thing… whatever sick mess is happening in this relationship, it has nothing to do with you.
I wish you the absolute best in this situation! xoxo
It seems like there is a strange believe among many people that processing trauma quickly is a sign of strength. People are admired for getting back to work or a normal routine quickly, & it’s assumed they’re “over it” when they do that. Unfortunately a lot of people who others think are “over it” are actually avoiding dealing with their pain.
Healing from trauma of any sort isn’t a quick process. How could it be? Trauma overloads your mind, emotions & even body. It’s impossible to simply shake it off & move on. It’s even worse when you’ve been exposed to repeated traumas, such as in the case of child abuse.
Never let anyone make you feel weak or ashamed because you’re not “over it” yet. Truly processing trauma takes time, & lots of it. It also takes a great deal of energy & courage to face the ugly truth, to get angry about it, & to grieve about it. It may take a lifetime to do. There is no shame in that. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’ve been through unimaginable circumstances.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother is incredibly painful. It causes a great deal of damage too, not only to one’s mental health but sometimes physical as well due to the intense, incredible stress of living with such a cruel person.
Unfortunately, the damage done is still with the child moving out of his or her mother’s home. While some of that damage is obvious, such as a person having C-PTSD, not all of it is so easily identified. There are many behaviors that tend to stick with a person even years after the abuse has ended.
Many victims accept the blame for everything. Growing up with a narcissist, you learn early in life that everything is your fault. If you had any doubts about that, your narcissistic mother would remind you of it. By adulthood, victims have lost all doubts & know everything is their fault.
Closely related is apologizing for everything. Children aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves, especially to their narcissistic mother. In fact, we don’t even have any clue how to stand up for ourselves. Instead, we learn to apologize, whether the problem is our fault or not. This behavior carries over into adulthood.
Narcissistic parents often compare their children unfavorably to their siblings or cousins. Those children grow up comparing themselves unfavorably to others just as their parent did rather than appreciating the differences in each person.
Children of narcissistic parents learned early in life that their purpose was to do for their parent. Children aren’t even thought of as human to their narcissistic parents, but instead they are merely tools to be used as needed by that parent. Knowing this means these children believe they aren’t important. They prioritize everyone else over themselves.
Along these lines, children of narcissistic parents also refuse to ask for help. They believe they are unworthy of help from anyone. Many are also perfectionists & think they should be able to do things by themselves, without any assistance.
Chronic self doubt is another problem narcissistic mothers create in their children. When you grow up hearing how you can’t do anything right, you’re a failure, you’re stupid or other cruel things, self doubt is normal. It can make you doubt every single thing about yourself, even into adulthood. Often it’s like there is a recording in the back of your mind when you try to do something that says those same awful things Mom used to say, & when you hear the recording, it transports you back to childhood, when you felt you were all of those things Mom said you were.
Difficulty making decisions happens often with adult children of narcissistic parents, too. When you suffer with self doubt, decisions can be really difficult to make! Even simple decisions like when your spouse asks where you want to go for dinner can be very challenging, because you feel like whatever you say will be wrong.
Over thinking is another common sign of having grown up with a narcissistic mother. It stems from having to be “on alert” at all times, needing to know what Mom wanted or how to please her or what exactly she needed at any time in order to avoid a narcissistic rage.
The lack of ability to express emotions is common with adult children of narcissistic mothers. So many narcissistic mothers did their best to stop their child from expressing any emotions, negative or positive. My mother used to scold me for having “that Bailey temper” that I learned never to show any anger or even simple frustration. It felt easier to stuff that emotion deep down than to be shamed. My mother also complained that I didn’t look happy, yet if I was happy, if it had nothing to do with her, she would shame me for being happy. Many narcissistic mothers behave in a similar way with their children.
Do you behave in any of these ways, Dear Reader? If so, please know you are NOT alone & you are NOT crazy. I’ve experienced them all, & still do experience some of them. I have found that praying really helps a great deal. I ask God for help or to show me what I can do to change my behavior. Simple? Sure, but also very effective.
I also question things. “Am I really to blame for this? Why?” “Should I apologize for that? Why or why not?” “Why am I comparing myself to that person instead of appreciating our uniqueness?” “Am I really not smart enough/talented enough/etc. to do that? What evidence do I have that shows me I’m not?” “Is it really unreasonable of me to ask my husband for help when I don’t feel good? Why?” These simple questions make me think about the situation at hand more objectively & I can see that sometimes what I’m thinking is nothing more than some old, dysfunctional mindset. Upon seeing that, I am able to act in a more appropriate way. If you have trouble doing this, another approach could be to imagine a friend came to you with the problem you’re facing now. What would you tell that friend? Imagining a friend is confiding in you rather than thinking about yourself facing the problem can give you a very different perspective.
Although these issues are challenging, they can be dealt with with time & work. Do it- you deserve to be rid of these dysfunctional habits!
I have published my most recent book! It’s called, “When Love Hurts: Loving A Narcissist”. This one is about being romantically involved with a narcissist. It teaches the reader how to determine if his or her partner is a narcissist, about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the best ways to cope with a narcissistic partner, how to help your children & more. I pray it will bless everyone who reads it.
Want to know something interesting? This book came to be because of a dream I had last spring. Strange, huh? Three ideas came to me in that one dream- a book about covert narcissists (which I wrote last year), another about narcissistic in-laws (I got a start on it & I think it will be my next book to publish) & this one about being romantically involved with narcissists. It was one more confirmation to me that dreams are important- we need to pay attention to them! You never know what God may show you in your dreams!
If you’re interested in this book, it is available in both print & ebook versions on my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
One thing so many of us subjected to narcissistic abuse want more than anything is validation. We’ve been ignored & invalidated so long, we’re starving for validation. It’s very normal to feel that way. Unfortunately, it also can be very hard to come by!
Many people don’t want to hear our stories, because they say it’s “too negative”, they don’t believe us (in all fairness, the things narcissists do sound so crazy it can be hard to believe), maybe they don’t believe narcissism is a real thing or that it’s so incredibly commonplace, or maybe they know the narcissist & don’t believe that person to be capable of doing the things you say she/he did to you. It can be super frustrating because we aren’t making this stuff up (honestly.. who really is that creative?!) & we’re so starved for validation
Then there is the narcissist. We would love validation from her. How many of us wouldn’t be thrilled if one day that person admitted the things they had done to us, & begged for our forgiveness? That would be the ultimate validation. It’s also a false hope that keeps us in relationship with narcissists for well beyond a time that we should be.
This need for validation, while normal, also can prove to be a problem.
Dear Reader, while validation from outside sources is a wonderful thing to have, you need to understand that some people simply will NOT give it to you, no matter what. I know that is painful, & I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s something you need to accept. You can’t make someone believe you or show you empathy because of what you have experienced.
Some time ago, I had a strange dream. In it, my car was nose to nose with a much smaller car in a parking lot. I was maybe 50′ or so away. Suddenly, the little sedan backed up & rammed into the front of my car, then backed up & did it again over & over. I was panicked- I love my car & ain’t no one messing with her, even in a dream! As I ran towards the cars, I realized the smaller car was shrinking- every time it hit my car, my car was fine, but the small car’s front end was becoming more smushed in. It leaked fluids & smoked like crazy. I stopped running & stared at this scene in shock & with some amusement. Then I woke up. Before I could even ask God what this dream meant, He told me. It had a two-fold meaning:
- Narcissists & flying monkeys are like that sedan. They are so determined to make their point known, they don’t care if they destroy themselves. Stand strong on the truth & what I know, & like my car, I’ll be just fine while they destroy themselves.
- Don’t be like the sedan. Some people won’t want to know what I’ve been through & I can’t make them care no matter what. Don’t try to force them to change their views- it’ll hurt me way more than it’ll ever hurt them.
I think this can be a very good lesson for you too, Dear Reader. Don’t be like the sedan! Don’t try to force people to validate your pain if they don’t want to.
Instead, learn to validate your own pain. Talk to God, journal, talk to supportive friends or a counselor, & accept the fact not everyone can validate your pain. It’s hard, but you can do this! And, not validating you is their right, after all. No one is obligated to do so. Some people simply aren’t very caring or empathetic. The invalidating people do one thing good though- they make you appreciate the kind, caring ones who do offer validation even more.
Since my last post was about red flags in those who write about narcissism, I thought I’d make today’s post about fellow survivors.
Most people who have survived narcissistic abuse are good people who are trying hard to recover. Naturally they have issues, but at least they’re working on them & working on getting healthier. They also are willing to share what they learn to help others in similar situations, & do so without any arrogance. They’re also open to input from other people, because they realize they don’t know it all- there is always more to learn on this topic.
Not every victim is this way, however. Some turn abusive.
I don’t know why some victims try to heal & why some become abusive but it does happen sometimes. If you’re going to interact with other victims through online support groups, reading blogs or on social media, you need to be aware of some red flags.
The biggest red flag to watch out for is narcissism. Many of you know the signs already so I won’t repeat them here. I’ll just share a link to the page on my website where I wrote about it if you care to check it out: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder.php
There are other red flags, too. If a person gives advice too freely, for example. While most victims want to help others, they also realize how rude it is to give unasked for advice. They also realize sometimes a person just needs to speak things out loud to help them work through a situation, & that doesn’t mean they’re looking for advice.
If a person is bossy or demanding with their advice, that’s another red flag. Most people realize that all people are individuals. What worked for them may not work for another. They realize it’s not a good idea to try to force someone to follow their advice & let the other person decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.
Your average victim of narcissistic abuse also isn’t judgmental or critical. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged & criticized so harshly, so they don’t inflict that on anyone else. Some victims turned abusers, however, can be extremely judgmental & critical.
Some victims also become very arrogant. They seem to think because they found success in doing something that helped them, that everyone should follow in their footsteps & if they don’t, they’re foolish.
These same people are also usually the first ones to shame people who, “don’t just go no contact.” They make it clear they don’t believe there is any reason not to go no contact, & they offer no compassion to anyone who wants to but it unable to or is trying to find another option.
Abusive victims also make excuses. If they are short with someone, it’s always for a reason like they’re having a bad da, as one example. They don’t apologize or accept responsibility for the hurtful things they do.
And, if you call a person like this out on their actions, they WILL be furious. They may offer a non apology. They may offer lame excuses for their behavior. They also may get mad at you. That in particular is a big red flag, because most victims of narcissistic abuse apologize easily & often. They don’t get mad when called out on their bad behavior. They usually get mad only when someone is accusing them of something they didn’t do.
One other red flag is a smear campaign. This is very common on social media. If someone feels the online support group they participated in wasn’t a good environment for example, social media is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about it. That is pretty normal behavior, I think, but if a person posts about that group in a way that really trashes it, that is a red flag.
The last red flag is stalking or harassing another person online. With your average victim of narcissistic abuse, they may have a dispute with someone then either stop speaking with them or even block them entirely. A victim who is also abusive however, may harass or stalk someone who disagreed with them. They may leave nasty comments on their page or join groups the other person is in & harass them in the group. This nonsense can go on for a very long time, especially with narcissists.
The best advice I can give in these situations is the Gray Rock method. Don’t react to their outrageous behavior or show them that what they do bothers you. Remain calm & ignore their behavior. Don’t defend yourself to their smear campaigns. Instead, simply block them wherever you can. Most people like this will get bored easily & leave you alone at this point. Narcissists may not be so simple to get rid of however. They may bother you for a long time. Never, ever respond to them- instead keep blocking them & their flying monkeys.
Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse. The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless. This post is about some of those problems.
Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD. It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more. In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain. Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD. Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think. Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.
Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias. When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious. That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended. Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved. While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created. It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely. Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad. Prayer is also very helpful. Medication can help as well. Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further. It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.
Lacking good coping skills is common as well. When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens. It’s overwhelming! It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so. You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.
Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle. They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done. Start with small things. As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.
Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal. It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have. As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations. Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.
Many victims also hold in their anger. As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill. Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in. As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill. Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally. You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.
Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults. Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence. The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore! Not everyone is like our parents. You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.
Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries. Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries. You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries. I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend. The book changed my life! I even created a free online class based on the book. It’s available at my website at this link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php
Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships. They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar. While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can. You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent. For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.
Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed. You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.
As some of you may remember, my late mother in-law was a covert narcissist. She also was exceptionally good at what she did. My own husband didn’t believe me when I told him of many of the things she said & did to me. Like everyone else, he was fooled by her innocent act. I can’t blame him entirely for that. Like I said, she was VERY good.
During the time she was in my life, I knew something was wrong, even though I had no understanding about Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the time. It blew my mind how, like my mother, she could appear one way to other people, but the moment we were alone, the fangs came out. That just isn’t normal & you don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know that.
Then one day when my husband & I were at his parents’ home, visiting his parents. My mother in-law said something, & my father in-law said, “Shut your stupid mouth. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say!” I’d never seen that side of him before, only heard about it. He & my husband went outside shortly after. My mother in-law & I were left alone. I don’t remember exactly what she said, it was probably over 20 years ago by now, but I do remember that she was especially mean to me that evening. I figured she was just upset by how her husband spoke to her & taking it out on me.
The anger I usually felt at her because of her nastiness softened a lot. I felt bad for her for what just happened. And, for some time after that, I put up with her nastiness without complaint. I figured she obviously has no real coping skills, so maybe being mean to me is the only way she can deal with the hurt & anger she felt inside. I didn’t like it but I figured if it helped her somehow, fine. If I could live through the horrible things my mother said to me, I could handle the mother in-law.
This didn’t last long, a couple of months tops. I realized it wasn’t helping her, it was really hurting me & frankly, it wasn’t fair.
Situations like this are no doubt why so many people say you should never pity a narcissist. It means you will tolerate a LOT of abuse. Well, that is a very valid point. I tolerated so much more than I should have because I felt pity for my mother in-law.
However, that being said, I still don’t regret feeling that pity for her at that time or at any point. Probably that makes me sound crazy, but hear me out…
I realized some time later that the ability to feel pity for someone who was so cruel to me showed that in spite of all of the narcissistic abuse I’ve been through in my life, it didn’t destroy my ability to feel compassion for others. It can be so easy to turn bitter & angry when you’ve been through narcissistic abuse. I also didn’t turn into a narcissist like a few victims of narcissistic abuse do. I am grateful that neither happened to me.
Feeling pity for my mother in-law motivated me to pray for her, & all Christians know God wants us to pray for others, including our enemies:
“43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, [a]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. 46 For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? 48 You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (AMP)
I prayed for her quite a bit over the years, albeit not as much as I should have. All of my prayers for her were answered. My mother in-law did come to know Jesus, so she is in Heaven now instead of Hell. She also died in her home rather than a nursing home, as she wanted. She even died in her sleep, peacefully.
Praying for her also was good for me. It helped me to release the anger I’d felt at her for so long. I eventually got to the point of feeling nothing for her beyond wanting her to come to the Lord & not to suffer at the end of her life. Sorta sad, I admit, but it sure beats hating her like I once did!
My point in telling you this story is this.. some people find it easy to feel pity for people, even narcissists. When you know that the narcissistic person in your life has suffered, in spite of how awfully they treat you, there’s probably a little part of you that pities that person. It’s natural to want to shut that part of you down when the object of your pity is so abusive. Instead, why not acknowledge it? Accept that feeling as it is- just a feeling. Also, you can take the feeling as a sign that person needs prayer & you need to be the one to pray.
However, please, PLEASE do not get all crazy like I did & let the pity you feel be a reason to tolerate abuse from the narcissist. It’s very possible to feel pity for someone while still maintaining healthy boundaries & distance. I did with my mother in-law & still do with my mother. Please learn from my mistake in this area!
Lastly, if you don’t feel pity for the narcissist in your life, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a bad Christian. Many people don’t feel it & there is nothing wrong with that! Even good, loving, faithful people don’t always feel pity towards narcissists. It happens, & it’s ok. This post is simply directed at those who may feel differently than you. 🙂
Like everything in the life of a narcissist, the gifts they give are all about them. They give what will benefit them in some way or what they think will make you change according to what they think you should be. This is why so often, people dread receiving gifts from narcissists.
If they’re trying to win you over somehow such as in the early stages of dating or after an argument, narcissists may give a good gift. That gift is supposed to help buy your love or forgiveness. That gift may be extravagant or something you mentioned wanting. My ex husband gave me only 2 nice gifts in our entire relationship. The first one was about 2 months after we met, for my birthday.
Narcissists also may give a gift to make you indebted to them. Maybe you are supposed to give them a gift in return. Maybe the gift they gave you is very expensive so you feel obligated to tolerate their abuse because they spent so much on that gift. Maybe you showed signs of wanting to end the relationship & this gift was supposed to make you want to rethink that move.
Often, narcissists give terrible gifts. They lack the desire to be a blessing, & that shows in the gifts they give in particular on days like birthdays or Christmas. They’re only giving gifts on these days because they have to in order to look good, not because they want to. As a result, no thought or consideration goes into the gift.
Other times narcissists give awful gifts is when they try to change their victim. For example, my mother gave me clothes for my birthday or Christmas for years. While clothes in general aren’t a bad gift, they are when the clothes aren’t in the receiver’s taste, but are the giver’s. Our tastes are extremely different & that was a problem for her. My mother wanted me to like what she likes, & this was one way to try to force me to dress like she thought I should dress. My late mother in-law did the same. A few months before Christmas one year, I mentioned in passing that I hate to cook. Yes, I do it because I don’t want us to starve, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & her daughters all gave me a LOT of cooking paraphernalia. Cook books, utensils, food, & a big ugly pasta dish I later used in the attic when the roof was leaking.. lol
Sometimes bad gifts are also a way for a narcissist to let you know they hate you without saying the words. A narcissistic mother in-law who dislikes her daughter in-law will give her terrible gifts, as one example. My late mother in-law gave me a Christmas sweater (I’m NOT into Christmas or Christmas sweaters), polyester slacks (not a fan) & other gifts that were clearly NOT my taste.
Sometimes they may “forget” to give you a gift at all. This is just one way to let you know you aren’t important to them or the gift giving day (your anniversary, Valentine’s day, your birthday, etc) isn’t important to them.
Or, narcissists may give away a gift you gave to them either to hurt you or out of thoughtlessness. My sister in-law gave me this cute little knick knack many years ago. I thanked her & said it was cute. She said she thought so, & was sure her mom would like it. She gave it to her. A few months later, her mother gave it to her & said something like, “I don’t know where this ugly thing came from. You can have it.” She said seeing it hurt her badly so she wanted rid of it. Since I thought it was cute, I could have it. My heart broke for her when she told me that story.
When you get an awful gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know how awful you think it is. If you do, the narcissist can play the victim & tell other people how ungrateful you are, making you look like a jerk. Rather than ask for the receipt so you can return or exchange the gift, simply thank her for the gift, then when you can, quietly give it to someone who you know would like it or give it to a charity.
Likewise when you get a great gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know you really like it. If you do, the narcissist is going to get a ton of narcissistic supply from that, & feel that you owe her for giving you this awesome gift. Simply thank her for the gift.
It’s always best to implement the Gray Rock method as much as possible when dealing with narcissists, including when they give gifts.
My maternal grandmother was a narcissist. She neglected & abused my mother until she died. However, my grandmother didn’t limit her abuse to only my mother. She continued it with the next generation.
This scenario is very typical. I’m sure it happens with male narcissists too, but it seems to be more common with female ones, so we will discuss female narcissists in this post.
Rather than narcissistic mothers becoming loving grandmothers, they simply become narcissistic grandmothers. Sadly, many children of narcissistic mothers think the abuse they endured won’t happen to their children, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Many people say that narcissists never change, but I disagree. The methods they use to abuse change & they often get even more vicious with their manipulation & criticisms. If they have grandchildren, they are simply new targets for their abuse rather than happy additions to the family.
Narcissistic grandmothers have zero trouble criticizing their children to their grandchildren. This not only can affect how your child sees you, but it also can affect your relationship with your child negatively & hurt your child. When I was quite young, my grandmother would tell me how lazy my mother was as a child & what a terrible person she was. It really hurt to hear her say those things, but she wouldn’t stop.
Not only will narcissistic grandmothers criticize their children to their grandchildren, but they also will criticize their children in front of their grandchildren. This hurts both the parent & child, & teaches the child that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat Mom &/or Dad like dirt. After all, Grannie Dearest does it, so it must be ok.
Since narcissists believe they always know best & boundaries aren’t for them, a narcissistic mother will run roughshod over her child’s rules with her grandchildren. If you don’t want your child to have a cookie nearer than an hour before dinner, you can guarantee that Grannie Dearest will give your child 18 cookies 10 minutes before dinner if she has the chance! As if this isn’t frustrating enough in & of itself to have your own mother break your rules, this also teaches your child that it’s ok to disobey Mom & her rules mean nothing.
Much of the dysfunction you grew up with at the hand of your narcissistic mother will continue with your children. If you had siblings, & all of you have children, your children will be treated much like you & your siblings were growing up. There will be a golden child & a scapegoat, & whichever you were, you can count on your child being in that role. In my mother’s family, her sister was the golden child & she was the scapegoat. While my grandmother was abusive to all of her grandchildren to some degree, I believe she saved the worst of her abuse for me.
If you have children & a narcissistic grandmother, it is your job as their parent to protect the children. Obviously, you don’t want her hurting your children like she’s hurt you! I believe the best place to start protecting them is to pray. Ask God for wisdom on how to handle the situation & how to best protect your children.
Also limit your children’s contact with your narcissistic mother as well as yours. The less contact anyone has with a narcissist, the better. Limited contact may evolve into no contact at some point. The less time spent around a narcissist, the clearer your thinking becomes concerning that person. You may realize no contact is best for you & your children when you hadn’t considered it an option before.
Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything & you won’t get mad. Help them to feel safe knowing that if Grannie Dearest says or does something that upsets them, they can tell you about it, you won’t be upset with them, & you will handle the situation.
Do not leave your children alone with their narcissistic grandmother. Make sure that you or your spouse or both of you are with them at all times in her presence. Not only will this help your children feel safer, chances are good that your narcissistic mother will behave better. Narcissists don’t like witnesses to their abuse, after all.
If you’re in this situation, I believe these tips can help you & your children. I wish you the absolute best! xoxo
Financial abuse is a little known type of abuse that narcissists often use on their victims. It is a very effective way to keep someone under control, after all.
For convenience sake, we’ll assume in this article the financial abuser is male, victim female.
While dating, a financial abuser obviously can’t have the deep level of control that a married financial abuser can have. However, he still can exert some control. It probably will start small, like him asking to borrow $20 until payday. Most people experience this at some point, so it’s no red flag, Plus, it’s only $20. Then he needs more & more, $50 or $100. Or maybe he asks to use your credit card, claiming he’ll pay it off soon. The problem is he never pays that money back. And, if you say anything, he gets extremely angry. You learn quickly it’s easiest just to give him money & not expect it to be repaid. I went through this when dating my ex husband. Even though he knew perfectly well how tight money was for me when we first got together, he still asked to “borrow” money often, & never paid it back. By the time we got married a bit over 2 years later, I figured he’d taken well over $400 from me.
Sometimes an abuser controls his or her victim’s finances completely. The victim has no access to bank accounts or credit cards. Receipts are demanded so every penny can be tracked. My mother did this to my father. He got a small “allowance” while she paid all the bills, saved money, etc. True, she was very good with money & maybe because of that should have been in charge of their finances to a degree. But, he had literally no say in where money was spent & didn’t know how much was saved either. My husband & I have a similar arrangement, but the healthy version. I tell him where every penny I spend goes (even though he doesn’t ask) & he doesn’t get an “allowance.” He has full access to all accounts, too, just like I do.
Sometimes financial abusers prevent their victim from working. They may tell their victim outright that she isn’t allowed to work. Or, they may sabotage her job somehow, such as by forcing her to call out often or making her run late so often that she gets fired.
Another trick of financial abusers is to ruin their victim’s credit. If the victim has her own income & wants to leave, one way to prevent that is by ruining her credit. How could she rent an apartment or buy a home when her credit score is 450 & her credit report is full of charged off bad debt? It’s impossible. He can ruin her credit by charging up her credit cards or taking out loans in her name, then refusing to pay the bills.
Some male financial abusers also keep their wives pregnant. They may sabotage birth control so she gets pregnant. If she has babies often, no matter how employable she may be, financially it just makes more sense for her to stay home rather than pay for expensive day care for several children. These abusers get what they want in many ways by doing this- they have more children to abuse/gain narcissistic supply from, their wife stays home as they want, they take away her independence & they feel powerful & in control.
There is hope for victims though, especially if you’re creative.
Ask safe friends & family for any help or advice they may have. They may help you financially or give you some advice you hadn’t thought of.
Local churches or domestic violence hotlines can help as well. Also, look into requirements for getting food stamps & public assistance. No, no one wants to do this, but they can help you until you get on your feet.
Skim any little bit of money you can. Every little bit will help you!
If at all possible, get some sort of job in secret. Babysit while he’s at work or walk dogs.
If your credit is bad, get a secured credit card to help you reestablish your credit. A secured card is one you send money to, then use it to pay for things instead of the other way around. Since there is no risk of customers not paying their debt, companies give these cards out freely, even to people with less than stellar credit.
Most of all, never forget to pray. God will help you to find ways to escape this insidiously abusive situation.
While no contact is often the best solution for a person with narcissistic parents, sometimes it isn’t an option or at least isn’t an option in the near future. This post is for those of you in that position.
I understand how difficult it is to be in that situation. I wanted to sever ties with my parents for over a year before the timing felt right. I did learn some things during that time though, & I hope what I learned can help you.
I think it is a good idea first to get to the root of why no contact isn’t an option & eliminate the problem if at all possible. Are you financially dependent? Then try to find other means of supporting yourself. Are you afraid of being alone? It is better to be alone than to have abusive people in your life! God can send you new friends who genuinely love you & become like family. Are you afraid of what may happen if you go no contact such as relatives attacking you? I know that can be pretty intimidating, but think about it- what can they really do to you? If all they can do is tell you what a terrible person you are, that is something you can handle. After all, didn’t your narcissistic parents tell you that often growing up? My mother did. Although it bothered me when the flying monkeys told me the same things, I realized their words only upset me because they reminded me of when my own mother said worse to me. Once your own mother has called you horrific names, you develop a sort of armor to that verbal abuse. Do you somehow know that the timing isn’t right like I did? Then keep praying & follow God’s promptings. When the timing is right, you will know it & He will enable you to follow through with going no contact.
If you are unable to go no contact at this time but want to, then try for low contact. Limit your exposure to your narcissistic parent as much as possible. Don’t be available every time they call. Don’t visit or invite them to your home often. Follow your heart & deal with them only when you feel you are able to. I used to pray before answering my parents’ calls. I’d ask God if I should take it or not & if I felt His answer was yes, I’d ask Him to guide my words & enable me to handle the situation in the best possible way.
When you must deal with your narcissistic parents, there are some helpful skills you can use.
Always remember that your parents are narcissists. You aren’t dealing with normal, stable, healthy people. You can’t expect them to behave as such. Get rid of any expectations for them to behave normally or show love to you.
Also remember- with narcissists, everything boils down to how can they get narcissistic supply? You’re best off depriving them of that supply, but in ways that can’t trigger their narcissistic rage. To do this, the Gray Rock method is best.
I think of Gray Rock as becoming boring to narcissists. What interests them? Deprive them of that. In other words, don’t tell them personal information. In conversation, stick to superficial topics like the weather. If you’re out of ideas for superficial conversation, ask the narcissist about herself. They love talking about themselves, so you might as well make it work for you. In difficult situations, you can ask the narcissist about herself & that should divert the attention off of you since most narcissists can’t resist an opportunity to talk about themselves.
Always stay calm, cool & collected around your narcissistic parent. Narcissists see displays of emotions as weakness, which makes them attack their victim like a hungry lion attacks a weak gazelle. In their presence, show no emotion. Always be cold & emotionless.
Keep firm boundaries in place & offer no explanations for them. You can say NO without explaining yourself further. If your narcissistic parent demands to know why you say no, change the subject. If your narcissistic parent hints at wanting to know, ignore the hints.
Keep learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It will help you to keep a healthy perspective of your situation. It will help you not to take your parents’ abuse so personally & it will help you to figure out effective ways of dealing with them.
And, never forget to pray often & talk to your safe, supportive friends who understand your situation. A good support network is extremely important in these situations. Avoid people who tell you what to do. People who don’t understand why you won’t go no contact or think no contact is wrong are not people you need to deal with, especially as you are trying to go no contact.